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above: U.S. Representative James Traficant (D-OH) gestures prior to testifying before the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, in Washington D.C. on July 16, 2002. (REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo)

Remembering the Right

Remembering Jim Traficant

The Sheriff of Populism

Donald Trump made headlines when he warned of illegal-immigrant drug runners and rapists pouring across the U.S.-Mexico border. But he wasn’t the first to do so. Ohio Rep. James Traficant, Jr., was well-known for voicing similar comments on any given morning from the floor of the House. Before there was Trump, there was Jim Traficant—the original plain-talking everyman politician.

Traficant is among those who are often disparagingly referred to as “populists,” homegrown Robin Hoods who have arisen to take a stand for the common man against wealthy interests and their bought-and-paid-for underlings who put the squeeze on Middle America. He did not author any long philosophical tomes, but he bequeathed to posterity thousands of speeches skewering free trade, open borders, foreign lobbyists, foreign wars, secularism, political correctness, and pretty much anything that the elites advocated. Despite his affiliation with the Democratic Party, he was very much a man of the populist right.

Traficant was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and never ceased working and fighting for the education, jobs, and quality of life of her citizens, first as a drug-dependency counselor, then as sheriff of Mahoning County, and later as a congressman representing Ohio’s 17th congressional district.

During his death-defying stint as sheriff, Traficant raided biker gangs that were stockpiling illegal arms, threatened mob bosses by...

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